4 Proven Instagram Strategies for Tourism Brands

4 Proven Instagram Strategies for Tourism Brands Lucy Hitz Blogger Extraordinaire Simply Measured

For civic and regional tourism brands, competition is fiercer than ever before. Thanks to social and the web, potential visitors have access to an endless amount of content on an endless number of locales — What is the best city, beach, club, to visit? Where should they spend their hard-earned vacation dollars?

2015 Instagram Influencer Report

These are the questions that tourists turn to Instagram to answer in 2016. Here’s how five creative tourism brands are making a difference on that highly visual network by getting their photos and videos in front of prospective visitors.

Don’t Forget Your Icons

It may be tempting to spotlight all the latest restaurants and theater openings at your destination, but don’t forget to show Instagram followers the impressive icons they’ve long associated with your city and probably factor greatly into their desire to visit.

This is Visit Seattle‘s most popular post out of the 69 that the tourism brand has posted in 2016 so far, scoring 3,325 in total engagements.

Floating high above the city in a #seaplane…incredible shot @mindfulexplorer! #visitseattle #feelseattle #spaceneedle #northwestisbest

A photo posted by Visit Seattle (@visitseattle) on

Visit Seattle puts out a lot of great content, but it’s this perspective-tilting image of the Space Needle, the most iconic visual associated with Seattle, that has generated the most excitement for our city on Instagram. That’s because visitors and residents alike (both of whom follow this account) are attracted to the grandeur of long-famous landmarks.

Bonus Points: On a tactical level, Visit Seattle has done a great job here deploying both popular and owned hashtags, while also leveraging user-generated content (@mindfulexplorer originally took this shot). Both of these tactics go a long way towards fostering brand discovery on Instagram.

Stay Present

Visit Philly knows that its denizens have had a very snowy winter, and the tourism brand has used this to their advantage. Sixty percent of the brand’s top posts for 2016 have been user-generated shots showing various Philly landmarks blanketed in snow.

This is Visit Philly’s most popular post of the year to date.

A snow-covered Elfreth's Alley – the nation’s oldest continuously inhabited residential street. (Photo by @urphillypal) #visitphilly #philadelphia #philly #snow

A photo posted by Visit Philly (@visitphilly) on

By using current circumstances to their advantage, instead of looking ahead to spring or focusing on more “timeless” shots, Visit Philly gives their Instagram account a sense of immediacy that is attractive to Instagram users.

Bonus Points: Note that Visit Philly uses three variations of Philadelphia in its hashtags: #visitphilly, #philadelphia, and #philly. In this way, the brand is working to connect with anyone who might be searching through the most popular Philly-related hashtag.

Consistency Works

L.A.’s Tourism Board Instagram account has an exceptionally high engagement as a percentage of followers, clocking in at 332%.

This chart from the Instagram Account Report shows DiscoverLa’s engagement activity from Jan. 1, 2016 to Feb. 19, 2016.

This means that the people who follow LA on Instagram interact with the brand’s content often, Liking and commenting up a storm. The engagement as a percentage of followers is usually the best indicator of how effective a brand’s Instagram content is and how well that brand knows and caters to its audience.

Let’s take a look at DiscoverLA’s top posts in the year so far. LA STORY

When I clicked through on each of these top posts in the report, I noticed that each post ends with the exact same CTA:

What’s your #LAstory? Tag your photos #LAstory for a chance to be featured. Photo: @InsertPhotogNameHere #discoverLA

DiscoverLA knows that consistency and repetition are key. This tourism board generates a ton of user-generated content by drilling the #LAstory hashtag and request for photos into the hearts, minds, and souls of all its followers.

Crowdsource FTW

Gulf Shores & Orange Beach’s Instagram account might not have as many followers as Seattle, but it does have a very impressive engagement as a percentage of followers record, clocking in at 203.9% in 2016.

Gulf Shores Instagram
This chart from the Instagram Account Report shows Gulf Shore and Orange Beach’s engagement activity from Jan. 1, 2016 to Feb. 19, 2016.

Here is Gulf Shore & Orange Beach’s most popular post of 2016 so far.

Is a dolphin cruise on your family spring break agenda? Recommend your favorite for our fans. #DolphinCruise #OrangeBeachCruise #FamilySpringBreak

A photo posted by Gulf Shores & Orange Beach (@gulfshoresorangebeach) on

Why is this post so successful? Because it asks a question of its audience. It treats its Instagram followers as experts, while also reminding people of its locale’s beauty and potential for family fun.

Bonus Points: Note that Gulf Shore & Orange Beach knows exactly the target audience it is going for in this post: the family. By using the #FamilySpringBreak hashtag, this post enables brand discovery from people who might not have even been considering the Gulf Shore & Orange Beach as a vacation destination.

The Competition Is Fierce

Especially in the travel space, competition for attention on Instagram is fierce. We feel your pain! Download our Complete Social Media Competitive Guide below for tips and tricks on how to differentiate your own brand and stay savvy on what your competitors are up to.

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Lucy Hitz

I’m the Content Marketing Manager here at Simply Measured. I manage our blog, produce longform content, head our co-marketing initiatives, and host the Simply Social podcast, among a few other things. I love yoga, The X-Files, peaty scotch, hiking, and poetry. If I were a social media channel, I’d want to be Instagram, but I think I’m Twitter.